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40 years ago construction began on the largest and most complex weapon
system in the history of US intercontinental missile defense...
massive effort involving numerous defense and civilian contractors--
over 2200 in all, and employing thousands of people, the WS-107A-2, or
the Titan I Weapon System (also known as Titan 1), was the culmination of research and development
going back to WWII.
Depicting a Cutaway View of the Titan I Underground Complex Typical to
AFB 724th and 725th Ballistic Missile Squadrons
an underground city, the Titan I missile complexes were built to support crew
and operations to provide a retaliatory or even pre-emptive strike in
the face of nuclear war.
Photo looking toward the Entry Portal (left) and the Control Center
Titans stood alert through the Cuban Missile Crisis, perhaps providing
the deciding measure of deterrent to end the tense standoff and persuade
the Russians to pull their missiles out of Cuba.
That was over forty years ago...
costs for each of the 18 operational Titan I sites in 5 states that were built was
Compared to modern military spending, these costs might seem minor, but
they were in 1960 dollars. Today, a comparable
facility could cost somewhere in the hundreds of millions of dollars
just to construct. Outfitting the complex with equipment and
missiles would multiply expenses even further.
all this in perspective is important because the Titan was developed
simultaneously with another weapon system: the Atlas ICBM.
The concept of Concurrency, or the
simultaneous development of 2 different weapons systems was undertaken to foster competition between
prime contractors and hopefully to allow for a backup should one program
fail. Accordingly, these two weapon systems were developed and
deployed on overlapping schedules. These two very expensive
projects of enormous scope and scale were the result.
Titan I test launch
the Titan I, construction of the 18 operational sites began in 1959 and
was completed in 1962. By 1965 every single Titan I site and
all the Atlas sites, were shut down and later scrapped out and abandoned
for good. Of the eighteen Titan I sites, not
one was operational for even 4 years.
Inspection - Silo Level #1 - 1963
over 40 years after the Air Force removed all their salvageable and
classified equipment, and the salvage contractors stripped the
Titans bare of steel, copper, hardware and any remaining useful
equipment, the Titans quietly rust in the earth.
of the sites were turned over to the original landowners; some sites
remained government property until most were sold at auction along with
abandoned Atlas sites and other surplus military property.
- Removal of Missile from 724B, February 1965
owners tried to make use of the disused Titans, but over the years time
and money either wore thin or they moved on. Untended, the water came
in and started to rise, the scores of sump pumps silent or gone.
The lead paint peeled, the rust appeared and spread rapidly through the
long, the curious and the young found their way inside the musty tunnels
despite the best efforts of parties concerned. Graffiti and
vandalism spread to the most remote and seemingly inaccessible reaches
of the complexes. Anything that could be smashed or broken
was. Beer bottles and cigarette butts litter every tunnel and
every room and footprints are visible in the residual dust from the
omnipresent asbestos insulation and in the disturbingly-crimson muck
from rusting iron.
Sites on the Auction Block
so the Titans are today-- rusting, flooding, being filled in with dirt
and concrete. Such is their final disposition. This site is
a memorial to these 'cathedrals' of the Cold War: as they were then, and
as they are now.
- Blast Lock Door Leading to Launcher Silo #1 - circa Fall 2000
Some Notes About This
made every effort to ensure the accuracy of information on this
site. The figures, data and all other information herein were
obtained from the most reliable sources at my disposal.
Those sources include historical documents published by the Air Force
and prime contractors to the development and construction of the Titan I
weapon system. Other sources include blueprints, research and
development documents and studies, retired missileers who worked with
the system and authoritative publications on the Titan I weapon system
as well as independent and on-going proof-reading by independent
military historians and any visitor who can back up a claim
adequately. I welcome any notice of error or inconsistency or
other inaccuracy that readers may wish to point out. To that end,
I hope this site will be as accurate as possible and will maintain a
"NO BS" policy on the information it contains.
am aware that this is hardly the first web site to feature pictures of a
Titan I missile complex and furthermore to present them in a way which
allows simple (hopefully) navigation of the complex in a graphical
manner. If you have not visited the following site:
and you have an interest in the Titan I, I recommend you investigate
it. It is likely the first such site to appear back in the Web's
infancy. If you are like myself however, you will find the
aforementioned site serves to whet your appetite for the Titan I.
Owing in large part perhaps to it's age, the pictures are few and far
between and fact-checking was not emphasized. Image quality was
also poor and details were hard to discern. This is not intended
to be critical of the above web site but instead to explain why I set
out to create this site. I wanted to see more and in better detail
and also to understand what exactly I was seeing in any given
picture. I have tried hard to address this on my site.
I hope it will prove interesting and informative. Many of the
images you'll see on this site are actually larger than they
appear. That is, they are displayed smaller than they truly are
for the benefit of user-friendly display without scrolling. I
wanted to have good pictures without too much distortion or pixelation.
pictures here for the most part are the property of the author and are
provided without limitation (as if I could stop you! Ha!) as to
their use but please do not personalize them and tout them as your
own. I am referring to the present-day pictures here. The
historical pictures come from various sources and are used with
permission when possible. Others are from the public domain and no
permission was sought regarding their use as no sources were given.
my lame attempts at humor. If you find my humor extremely unfunny
I apologize but please bear in mind much of this was written in the wee
hours when fatigue can well distort the limits of what is funny as
interpreted by the author. If you take special exception with
anything I say and think it should be censured, you'd better have a good
and convincing argument. If you do have a valid complaint point, I
will try to rectify the offending citation to our mutual satisfaction.
welcome any questions you may
have regarding the Titans. I will try to answer questions if I am
able or to possibly refer you along to someone else who may be able to
with the Titans has been ongoing since 1994 when I first laid eyes on
one. Since then I have researched them extensively both in an
effort to document them as well are preserve their history. This
preservation chiefly involves scanning old documents. I was a
groundskeeper of sorts to the site featured in these web pages and I
discovered a large number of technical documents inside the site.
I have been working to scan these documents in an effort to preserve
them and also to build a small branch library of information on the
Titans before the sources disappear, are destroyed or sold at online
My thanks to
The AAFM http://www.afmissileers.org/
for the use of pictures and for information about the Titan I weapon
system and it's history.
The missile_talk group
on Yahoo.com at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/missile_talk/
for the help of it's many active members and their help with the
information provided on this site.
To Mr. F. Epler for the
use of photographs from his personal collection and many other
resources he has graciously provided.
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